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Creatine & Performance

9th May 2017

what is creatine?


Creatine is one of the most popular products in sports nutrition and rightly so as it’s use is supported by many scientific studies. Creatine is a natural substance which can be found in foods such as red meat and fish and is also produced naturally within the body. It is made up of three amino acids, arginine, glycine and methionine.


how does creatine improve performance?


Creatine is able to enhance exercise performance by aiding the production of ATP (Adenosine tri-phosphate). ATP is the only form of energy which the body is able to utilise… so it’s kind of a big deal! When we consume energy in the form of carbohydrates, protein or fat it first has to go through a series of processes which convert it into ATP.

When the energy has been extracted from ATP to fuel muscles during exercise it becomes ADP which is pretty useless in its current state and cannot be used to produce more energy. ADP can however be converted back into ATP by a substance known as phosphocreatine so that it can once again be used to yield energy. This is where creatine ingestion displays its performance benefits as it can increase levels of phosphocreatine within the muscles which can then help regenerate ATP. Therefore taking creatine can help you to train harder for longer whether that’s pushing out a few extra reps in the gym or doing a few more sprints at the end of a speed session.


when should I take creatine?


Whilst the benefits of creatine supplementation are clear and well researched, the timing of creatine supplementation is lacking evidence. Some people believe that taking creatine before a workout is best as this will increase the levels of phosphocreatine in the muscles just in time for your training session, therefore more ATP can be regenerated and you will have more energy. On the other hand, others believe it is best to take creatine after a workout with your protein / carbohydrate drink as this spikes insulin and increases uptake of creatine into the muscles.

There is little scientific research supporting one approach over the other. One study by Antonio et al (2013) found that taking creatine post workout had a slight benefit over taking it pre workout. This difference however wasn’t significant and more research is required to support these findings. Until there is more concrete evidence, the timing of creatine supplementation doesn’t seem to make a huge difference, taking it both pre and post-workout will increase your phosphocreatine stores and have the desired effect on performance.


how much should I take?


Creatine supplementation is often begins with a loading phase during which you take a higher dosage for around a week, followed by a maintenance phase where a smaller dosage is taken. This is sometimes followed by a wash out period where creatine isn’t taken for a couple of weeks. An example of a creatine loading protocol is:


  • Loading Phase - Take 15-20-g for 5-7 days
  • Maintenance Phase - Then take 5g daily for 3-4 weeks
  • Wash-out Phase - 1-2 weeks without creatine


This reason for this loading phase is to saturate creatine stores quickly so that the benefits of creatine supplementation are experienced sooner. However this isn’t essential, taking a smaller dose consistently will still work, it will just take longer to saturate creatine stores and experience the benefits.


Why not try our chewable creatine tablets, they taste great!



References

Antonio, J. and Ciccine, C. The effects of pre versus post workout supplementation of creatine monohydrate on body composition and strength. Journal of The International Society of Nutrition 10:36, 2013.